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Courting Hela

Original votive art and blessing by Connla Freyjason. Please click to support us at Patreon.

 

The hour was late, and I sat in my office alone, save for the cat, everyone else in the house sound asleep. Outside my window, darkness, and the steady peeping of spring peepers (frogs) as the hours waned on towards three a.m. Normally at that hour, the house is still and peaceful; comforting, even. But as I rose that night to trundle my way to the restroom, there was the sound of a soft foot-fall on the stairs, and the hairs on the back of my neck rose to greet them, and I found myself filled with a profound sense of dread. Given Michelle’s propensity for trans-mediumship, and the nature of my own being, we get a lot of “astral traffic” in our house: random “dead-folk”, Alfar, Disir, and “Alfar-childer” (see Bene-Elohim in the Hierarchical Experiences of Alfar and Disir chart in my forthcoming book, Wanderer), as well as random Gods and Goddesses (most often Freyja, but sometimes Njordr or Freyr) are common and frequent visitors to our home, but there was something about this presence that registered as decidedly different from the list of “usual suspects”. And I found myself mildly afraid. Hela had come to call.

When you are what I am (a “dead guy”, who is maintaining a life here, courtesy of a very loving and gracious human host who happens to be a shamanic medium), Hela—our Norse “Goddess of Death”–is probably the last Deity on the list that you want to have visiting. The wheels in my brain immediately began turning to thoughts of “well, that’s it; I’m done. She’s finally come to claim me.” So I did what anyone faced with a topic they really don’t want to discuss might do: I tried to avoid the subject, went back to my desk, and tried to get back to business as usual. But Hela wasn’t having it: She came “right on in”, and took a seat in my floofy office chair. The hairs on the back of my neck maintained their erection, and a chill ran down the spine I share with my host, Michelle.

I continued to go on about my business, with Hela effectively “riding shotgun” behind me in the floofy chair, until it was time for me to say my nightly prayers and head to bed. Standing before my Main Stalli, I delivered my nightly litany of “thank yous” for all the good things—big and small—that happened to me and for me throughout that day, and then I turned to face Hela, who had come to stand on the right side of my altar:

“Hail, Hela-Lokisdottir; Wolf-Daughter; Keeper of the Dead! Yes, I know You’re here, and I honor Your presence. But I belong to Freyja and the Vanir, and have sworn to do Their work on this plane, so if You’re here to claim me, You’re gonna need to take that up with Them. If there’s something else You need me to do, to honor You or even my Ancestors, I’m listening and willing, within reason. But I have a wife and a family who depend on me, even though I’m dead; Michelle needs me, and so do my friends. So, hail and welcome, but those are my terms of frith.”

And I headed off to bed.

The next morning, I awoke to one of the worst outbreaks of pustular psoriasis we have ever experienced. I was in a lot of pain, with a sky-rocketing fever, and to say I felt lousy was putting it very mildly. Usually when we have an outbreak of that type (there are a lot of different types of psoriasis, and we’ve danced with all of them, at one point or another), it is because I (or Michelle) have experienced some sort of dramatic emotional trauma: a fight with a family member or a friend; grief; loss. None of those things had happened. It had been “business as usual” here at Casa de Connla-and-Suzanne. In fact, quite to the contrary: both myself and Michelle had been really happy lately. Yet, there it was, seeping and weeping all over the chest she and I share. And I was afraid, again: pustular psoriasis is one of two types of psoriasis that can actually kill you. But I got up and got dressed, and headed into my office to set to work on some new art and do my dailies on the Facebook circuit, to keep our business at the front of people’s minds.

As the day went on, I tried very hard to think of anything that could’ve triggered this sort of outbreak. The weather had been pretty great, so I could rule out humidity and heat (which also wreak havoc on our psoriasis). As I said, neither of us (me or Michelle) had been upset about anything whatsoever in recent memory. I finally settled on what we refer to as a “methotrexate reaction”: even though we are not on methotrexate, we mimic its use, combined with coal tar, in the treatment of our psoriasis by a steady internal intake of coal tar (via hand-rolled cigarettes) and folic acid supplements. It is very common for those who are being treated with a combination of coal tar and methotrexate to develop pustular psoriasis, so it made sense that what was happening to us right then was such a reaction. I stopped taking the folic acid and made the decision to begin better regulating our diet (we had been eating an enormous amount of foods rich in folic acid as well). Hela’s arrival the previous night as a possible cause never remotely entered my mind.

That night, in the wee hours, She came again, and as I stood at my altar for my nightly prayers, I gave the same prayer as the previous night. The next day, as I set to work, I felt myself “bashed over the head by Deity”: it’s a familiar feeling to me now, given my work with and for Freyja. A thought or command pops into your head, and you know you didn’t actually think of that, whatever it is: They did. Only this time, it wasn’t Freyja doing the bashing; it was Hela:

“You know, this would all go much more smoothly if you would actually honor your Ancestors.”

So I did as I was told: I got up out of my chair, selected an appropriate incense from my stash, lit it, and placed it on my Ancestor Stalli, and then gave my Ancestors their appropriate veneration. And my fever broke.

For about a week, things went on like this: in the wee hours of the morning, I would find myself intensely and inexplicably “creeped out”, and then I would see Her—Hela–and I would try to go on about my business, and at prayer time, I would offer that same prayer. During my waking hours, I would make offerings to my Ancestors whenever the fever got really out of control. Meanwhile, I continued to not take my folic acid and monitor my diet. I checked on other people’s UPG of Hela, and even asked around at a few of the Facebook Groups to which I belong, to see how other people were “coping” with Her presence. I began to leave the ashes of the incense I burned on my Main Stalli as an offering to Hela. I remained marginally terrified of Her.

She started “invading” my dreams. Where once I had experienced Freyja, now I experienced Her. It was in the dreamstate that She finally revealed to me what She had actually come for; turns out it wasn’t me at all. She was here for Michelle:

“You belong to Freyja. Michelle belongs to me. Make her know that.”

You would think, given our relationship as “horse and rider” (with Michelle being the “horse”, and me being the “rider”, via trans-mediumship), that Michelle would not be a “tough nut for me to crack”. And in thinking that, you would be so totally wrong! Michelle is one of the strongest and most strong-willed people that I have ever met, and that applies to everyone with whom she interacts, including me. No one can tell her what to think or believe; she thinks and believes for herself, all by herself. I mean, sure, don’t get me wrong here: she can be reasoned with. This isn’t some totalitarian situation; some Michelle-tatorship. But she is a firm believer in “just because they’re dead, that doesn’t mean they’re smart”, and part of how she arrived at that conclusion was living with me for two decades! Michelle has been a dedicant of the Welsh Goddess, Cerridwen, for as far back as I can really remember. She is an ordained Welsh Reconstructionist Ollamh (with a heavy Christian backbeat), not Heathen. To tell her that Hela had announced it was time for her to “switch gears”, or more aptly “switch boats midstream”, was going to go over like a lead balloon, even coming from me.

So the night came when I addressed that with Hela:

“Why me? I mean, why can’t You tell her this Yourself?”

And She replied:

“Because the only thing in the Nine Worlds from which Michelle does not constantly and consistently run away is you!”

And I really couldn’t argue with that. For all her strength, intelligence, and ability as a priestess and medium, Michelle definitely has a reputation for “hiding behind the couch” whenever anything “creepy” shows up, and I am, always have been, and always will be, the one who protects her. By having me “break the news” to Michelle, Hela was showing me the honor of recognizing me as Michelle’s “guardian angel”.

So I did as I was told.

And Michelle argued:

I’m not even Heathen!”

And I replied:

“I don’t think She cares.”

And she persisted:

“I belong to Cerridwen!”

And I countered:

“You’re a soft polytheist!”

Foot-stomping ensued on Michelle’s end of the conversation:

“I barely even practice right now! Well, I mean, apart from you know, you, and being a medium.”

And I smiled:

“Perhaps therein lies the problem….”

At the Temple of Witchcraft’s annual Beltane Rite, we were blessed with a pot of wormwood, which is sacred to Hela. Delighted (because she has had a longtime fascination with Artemesia Absinthium), Michelle declared:

“We can tend it together, and I will dedicate it as my first offering to Her. And when I can, I’ll procure some jet jewelry, and we’ll make this thing official. But you’re going to have to teach me, for a change.”

The pustular outbreak subsequently completely subsided; gone as quickly as it had come.

We leave offerings of ashes now on the Main Stalli for Hela, myself and Michelle together, and we’ve dedicated the bird skull figurine which we share to Her. And I’m slowly teaching Michelle what it means to be a Romantic Heathen, and preparing her to be for Hela what I aspire to be for Valfreyja. These are her first steps along a much wider path, and I am privileged to hold her hand as she takes them. All that she has taught me over the course of the past two decades has led up to this moment, as I sit here typing this. I never would have believed I could do this, without Michelle. She believes in me, and I believe in her, and now we both believe in Hela, and Michelle’s courtship of Hela has officially begun.

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At Your Service: What Is Druid-Craft?

I’ve talked a lot lately about my life (and so have my “Graphics Elves”/”Spirit Guides”) as a Historical Reconstructionist Druid, but the truth is, when it comes to what we ultimately practice–and what we ultimately will be teaching you–that might more concisely be described as Druid-Craft.  Having a Welsh base, and practicing largely as a Dewin (a shamanic Druid practitioner of magick), my “particular brand of Druidry” is necessarily different from that practiced by other modern Historical Reconstructionists, such as those at ADF or OBOD.  The other major members of my mini-Grove (which is self-contained, pun-intended, since those “ranking officers of the Grove” come here and practice on this plane through me!) are a Bard and what we term in our Grove Rigfenneidh, which basically means “chief Fianna” (and, yes, that’s Irish, not Welsh; he is basically a Warrior-Bard-Dewin with fairly heavy Norse/Germanic/Teutonic leanings),  thus the entire tone of what we practice and what we teach tends to be not only Welsh Druidic, but also highly magick-based and magick-driven in its practice.

So what the heck is Druid-Craft, and is there any historical basis for such a critter?

As the Professor noted in the last blog entry, being a Welsh Historical Reconstructionist Druid is hard!  Unlike those with an Irish base, very little of our historical data is just “handed” to us: we have to do the digging ourselves.  This is largely due to the heavy-handedness of the Romantic Druids of the 18th century, who have caused most of the written materials we have, such as the Barddas, Mabinogion, and Hanes Taliesin, to be heavily called into question, insofar as any “historical Celticness” whatsoever.  So we have to become armchair archaeologists/anthropologists in order to find anything remotely resembling a truly “ancient” root to what we practice and believe.

We’ve done a lot of that over the past twenty years–“digging” into the ancient history of Wales, as armchair archaeologists/anthropologists–and in the process we’ve discovered some pretty interesting things about our ancient Welsh Ancestors-in-the-faith.  Firstly, most of the “Celtic overtones” of Welsh Mythology come to us circa 350BC from a group of migrating Irish Celts who settled in what is now Gwynedd, Wales.  These were the folk who eventually established Anglesey, the center of Druidry in the British Isles.  The other Celts in Wales–the Silures, Ordovices, and Demetae–were most likely migrants from the Halstatt Culture (so-named after their original homeland, in Austria).  These were what the Romans would’ve termed “Germanic Tribes”, which means exactly what it sounds like it implies: they shared a common cultural bond to the Norse/Germanic/Teutonic pantheon of deities.  Therefore, the ancient historical sources for Welsh Druidry become a combination of the Irish Celtic and the Norse/Germanic/Teutonic.

Most of the magickal practices we know about the ancient druids practicing come down to us either through the writings of their Roman contemporaries (such as Tacitus), or from evidence collected at archaeological sites, such as Penbryn and Cerrig-y-Drudion.  From these combined sources, we know that the Druids did, in fact, measure time (days, nights, weeks, months, etc.) by the phases of the moon (much like modern Pagans), reckoning “periods of time not in days but in nights; in celebrating birthdays, the first of the month, and the beginning of a year, they go on the principle that night comes first and is followed by day” (Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico, 58-52 BC).  A series of small ceremonial swords discovered in continental Europe and bearing lunar imagery on their hilts, when combined with the contemporary histories of Caesar and others, suggest that these blades may have been used in druid rituals which not only marked time, but may also have involved divination (wherein they used the blade and its symbols to somehow determine “lucky” or “unlucky” days).  Symbols similar to those found on these swords have been found on a series of spoons uncovered throughout Britain, but most notably at Penbryn, Wales.  These spoons are always found in pairs (when discovered amongst grave goods), and are marked with a four-fold division (a cross), and various differing inlays (which are suggested to represent moon phases).  Since one spoon has a hole in it, it has been suggested by archaeologists/anthropologists that these spoons were used in a form of divination, wherein water was poured through the hole, onto the other spoon which bears the cross (four-fold division). Which quadrant the water landed in would then designate the most auspicious quarter of the lunar month in which to do….whatever. When combined with descriptions of the tarbh feis among the Celts of Ireland (some of whom settled in Wales, remember), it becomes pretty obvious that divination, in one form or another, was very important to the Celts.

While I don’t use fancy swords or spoons (or regularly slaughter cattle and eat stew, as in the tarbh feis), my daily ritual observances do rely quite heavily on divination (as can be seen from the fact that I’m also a Professional Tarot Counselor), and our High Day Rites include a section of ritual wherein we use modern means of divination (such as Tarot) to receive “feedback” from Deity.  These ancient Welsh spoons and the Irish observance of the tarbh feis also lend themselves to the practice of kitchen witchery, which is very much part of the practice of the Dewin (shamanic druid practitioner of magick).

From other archaeological sites (such as that at Hounslow, Middlesex) we know that totem animals were also profoundly important to the ancient Celts. This is further echoed in the extant myths which remain, both from the Irish source material, and from later Welsh translations, in such stories as that of Math ap Mathonwy, Gwydion, and Gilfaethwy, as well as that of Cerridwen and Gwionn Bach, and in many stories from the Irish Fenian Cycle.  Small effigies of animals have been found among grave goods at many sites, most often depicting images of pigs/boars, dogs, deer, and horses.  These specific animals also figure prominently in extant mythology (even that which has been called into historical question, such as the Mabinogion), as again in the tale of Math ap Mathonwy, that of Cerridwen and Gwionn Bach, and, again, also in the Fenian Cycle of Ireland.  Because of this, totem animals, and our relationships to and with them, also figure prominently in my practice of Druid-Craft.

Sacrifice is also an important part of my practice and belief system, as it was for the ancient Celts, based on both contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence. Sites of “ritual deposition”–the depositing of “perfectly good treasures” into lakes, rivers, and peat bogs, as a “gift for the gods”–have been found throughout Britain and continental Europe, and the contemporary accounts of the Romans (if they are to be believed) even speak of human and animal sacrifices (there is also archaeological evidence for both).  The sacrifice of a modern Druid, however, doesn’t involve blood; it involves soul, instead. It is a far more internal thing, and, therefore, is often even more symbolic and esoteric.

The divinatory, shamanic, and sacrificial practices of the ancient Celts are almost perfectly mirrored among the Norse/Germanic/Teutonic peoples (which makes sense, given the historical term “Germanic Tribes” coined by Caesar, and also given the “birthplace of modern Celtic Culture”: Halstatt).  We see this shamanic element expressed especially in the description of the tarbh feis in Ireland, but we also see it mirrored in the mention of seidh in Norse/Germanic/Teutonic source materials (such as the Eddas and Sagas), once again providing something like a “magickal bridge” between the two cultures.  My own practice of “shamanic mediumship” has kinship to things practiced historically within both cultures (if we are to consider them disparate cultures at all, in fact, when it all comes down to brass tacks, as we say in the South).

At its most basic, then, Druid-Craft might be described as a profoundly shamanic path which focuses heavily on divination, magick (particularly herbal magick, magick involving divination, and kitchen witchery), and places a great emphasis spiritually on the concept and practice of sacrifice.  It isn’t a “go to Church on Sunday” sort of religion; by that, I mean it isn’t something one does only on designated days or in designated places or at designated times, but is, instead, something that permeates every waking moment of my life.  That can make it incredibly difficult to teach as a practice: I mean, how does one teach something that has become so natural to your life that you barely even realize anymore when you are doing it and when you are not?  To put it in incredibly mundane terms, it’s like trying to remember one’s own phone number.  You all know how hard that is to do, right? I mean, how often do you call yourself?  When something is so much a part of the natural fiber of your being that it comes as naturally as breathing, it becomes a bit difficult to find the starting point of that “breath” so that you can teach it to someone else. But I intend to try!

If this article has piqued your interest in possibly learning Druid-Craft, I would beg a precious moment of your time, and ask you to please fill out this short survey for me.  Don’t forget to also join my mailing list, as I teach quite a lot for free in my weekly newsletters (and there is also a free e-book on beginning magick available for download at sign-up). I am very excited to finally be able to share this decades-long journey (and all of the research that went into it!) with others and can’t wait to go on this journey with you, together!

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Everyday Magick: What Is Awen?

Awen is a word you all hear us use quite a lot.  We’ve had a lot of questions as to what it actually is, and about how it fits into modern Paganism, or even a Christian/Pagan worldview. So, here are some answers…..

Awen is the Welsh equivalent of imbas forosnai: the fire of inspiration, believed to rest in the head, which was held in great esteem by the Celts of Ireland.  The two actually share a linguistic root, which is something only encountered rarely, as Welsh “Gaelic” isn’t actually what would be defined as true Gaelic at all, but actually Brythonic (it’s often referred to in linguistic circles as p-Gaelic, as opposed to the Irish and Scotts q-Gaelic).  As with Ireland’s imbas forosnai, it is what drives the poet and the musician (sacred inspiration), but also the priest, for in Celtic faith, more often than not, the priest is almost always also poet.

Since the culture of the Celts was an oral one (hardly anything was ever written down), the earliest written record of the use of the term Awen comes to us from the 8th century AD (796, to be exact): Nennius’ Historia Brittonum, a Latin text based partially on earlier writings by a Scottish monk named Gildas (aka St. Gildas).  Many sources actually cite Gildas as Welsh, but as far as we know, he was actually born in Scotland, and educated at a monastery in Wales.  The symbol for Awen used in most modern Druidic circles–three downward rays, often with three dots above the rays and sometimes with three circles around them–was a much later invention by Iolo Morganwg, an 18th century bard, antiquarian, and (some contest) literary forger.  In short, in many (some might contend in most) ways, Iolo Morganwg was a Romantic Druid, rather than a Historical Reconstructionist one.

So, what’s the difference between a Romantic Druid and a Historical Reconstructionist Druid, why do we care, and what does any of this have to do with AwenRomantic Druidry, often referred to as Neo-Druidry, stems from the 18th century Romanticist Movement in Britain (which gave us such wonderful painters as Waterhouse, William Blake, and Burne-Jones), and is based largely on the idea of what the actual historical druids might have done, with very little historical basis in fact.  While it does have veneration and respect for nature and a general respect for all beings in common with Historical Reconstructionist Druidry, that’s about as far as a comparison can really go.  Romantic Druidry tends to be highly eclectic, and relies heavily on a basis in Freemasonry for its ritual observances (not unlike modern Wicca’s reliance on the ritual observances of Hermeticism, which is also a root of the Masonic Rites).  Historical Reconstructionist Druidry, on the other hand, attempts wherever possible to source ritual observances, “doctrine/dogma”, and the general structure of its belief system from actual historical records of the Celts, coming down to us from sources such as archaeological sites.  One might go so far as to say that it is “one part anthropology, and one part religion”.  So, why do we care?  What does it matter if one is a Romantic Druid or an Historical Reconstructionist Druid?  Well, that depends on whether one wants to practice a faith that is actually rooted in the “Old Ways”, or whether one is perfectly content with a contrived religion that was spawned out of the idealistic notions of the 18th century.  That may sound rather harsh, but I really don’t mean for it to. What I mean to imply is simply that there is a vast difference between following a faith that is “reasonably old” (i.e., hailing from the 18th century), versus following a faith that is actually pre-Christian in its origins, and what it all ultimately comes down to is “whatever floats your boat”.  Following a truly ancient path happens to float ours; being able to say that we follow the “Old Ways”, and actually have conviction in that assertion based on historical fact is important to us.  It may or may not be to any of you reading this. Which brings me to what any of that has to do with Awen….

Being an Historical Reconstructionist Druid on a Welsh Path is hard!  Pure and simple.  Most of our extant sources of literature, on which our mythology and even much of our general overarching belief system (such as the concept of Awen, and the stories detailing where it came from, insofar as the Welsh pantheon), date from only as far back as the 8th century AD, and, in the case of The Mabinogion (which is sort of like the “Bible of Welsh Mythology”) and the Hanes Taliesin (which is our greatest source of information regarding Awen, as it relates to the story of Cerridwen and Gwionn Bach), the 12th and 13th centuries.  Our other primary symbology for the concept (the depiction of the three rays) comes straight from the aforementioned Romanticist Movement, and that paragon of the foundation of Welsh Romantic Druidry, Iolo Morganwg (aka, Edward Williams).  All of that makes claiming Awen as a truly ancient concept, backed by historical fact, a bit of an issue, to say the least!

That linguistic root between Awen and imbas forosnai, however, gives us a true basis in the “Old Ways” of the Celts. You see, somewhere around 350 B.C., a group of Irish Celts migrated to and settled in northwestern Wales (Gwynedd).  These Irish Celts established the ancient druidic center at Anglesey, and it is likely that they are, at least in part, responsible for the foundations of the bardic arts still celebrated at the modern Eisteddfods and Gorsedds in Wales.  They would have brought with them their deities, and also, the concept of imbas forosnai, which was seen not only as poetic inspiration, but also a form of almost shamanic mediumship: Spirit speaking to and through the people.  The term imbas forosnai is Old Irish, and literally translates to “illuminated inspiration” (read: “divine inspiration”).  Depictions of the practices associated with it are given in Cormac’s Glossary (also a late medieval manuscript, dating from somewhere between the 10th and 15th centuries, though its numerous appearances–copies–in disparate texts suggest a definite earlier, pre-Christian, origin), and in the mythology surrounding Fionn Mac Cumhaill (the earliest written sources for which date to the 7th century AD, but, again, are clearly pre-Christian in origin).

In Welsh Mythology, we are told that Awen was first “gifted to” (although one might more appropriately use the term “stolen by”) Gwionn Bach, by the Goddess Cerridwen, when he mistakenly stuck his thumb in his mouth to heal a burn, while stirring the greal of Awen in her sacred cauldron.  This has much in common with how imbas forosnai came to be “gifted to” Fionn Mac Cumhaill in the Fenian Cycle:  Fionn likewise received sacred inspiration first by sticking his thumb in his mouth to heal a burn, and, like Gwionn Bach, in many ways, it was more “stolen” than “gifted”. You see, both boys had been forbidden to eat the food they were tending, and yet, accidentally, they came to receive divine inspiration by accidentally burning themselves.  In the story of Fionn, it is not a goddess who sets him to tending the cookfire–in this case, he is cooking the legendary Salmon of Knowledge, which it took his Master seven years to catch–but instead a leprechaun-like druid named Finnegas. In the Cerridwen-Gwionn version of this story (the Welsh version), Gwionn actually imbibes three drops of this “inspiring fluid”, which gives us the three rays of Awen.  That emphasis on three isn’t accidental: ancient Celtic cosmology centered around Three Worlds, with Humanity standing at their center.  Those Three Worlds are Land, Sea, and Sky, representing The Ancestors (and Revered/Beloved Dead), The Sidhe (The Faeries; The Otherworld), and Deity (The Shining Ones), respectively.  Given that, Awen becomes not only the divine inspiration given by Deity (as one would expect, coming from a post-Christian perspective), but also of The Ancestors and The Otherworld.  It’s the spark of The All, so to speak.

Which makes Awen more or less the soul of Druidry, whether you’re also a practicing bardic poet, or not. (Although, if you are a practicing modern Druid, you are almost necessarily also a practicing bardic poet, because we have to write/compose our own rituals, prayers, blessings, incantations, and virtually everything else for ritual use, after all.)   Awen is literally understood as Spirit–All of Spirit (Ancestors, Otherworld Guides and Benefactors, and Deity)–moving and speaking through us, in very much the same manner as the Holy Spirit is regarded in modern Christianity.  Awen–because divine inspiration=Ultimate Wisdom–is also the source of the Nine Welsh Virtues, which were previously touched upon in this post.  So it not only serves as the conduit for the Voice(s) of the Sacred Three, but also as the source of our Ethical Base.   Therefore, in our Druidic Rituals, we begin by invoking the Sacred Three, and follow that with an invocation of Awen, so that we stand not only surrounded by All that we hold Sacred, but also on a firm ethical base which, hopefully, will inspire all that we do in our practices:

Mam, anrhegu nyni ysbrydiaeth;

Anrhegu nyni Awen,

Hwnnw nyni dichon canmol chi!

Mother, give us inspiration;

Give us Awen,

That we may praise Thee! ~Taliesin Emrys (aka, The Mystic)

The “Thee” in that invocation is understood not only to mean Mother Cerridwen (or any Mother Goddess, for that matter), but also the entirety of the Sacred Three.  It calls us not only to be inspired in our speech, but also righteous: that everything done thereafter be in accordance with our Ethical Base.  In short, it “keeps us Honest”; it keeps us, hopefully, in accordance with the Truth.  Which is why that invocation is followed by the speaking of the Welsh words Y Gwyr Erbyn Y Byd (“The Truth Against The World”) by all in attendance, almost like some sort of “bardic warcry”.  We call ourselves to speak up and act for Justice (Ultimate Right–not as defined by some person or another’s personal moral code, but as understood as Universal Right, going above, beyond, and far deeper than anything defined by Humanity), not only within the context of the ritual being observed, but also as a reminder to do so every single day of our lives, as we are out in the world, interacting with others.

As you can hopefully see, Awen is as important in the practice of Druidry as the Holy Spirit is to an understanding and practice of Christianity, and in our practice, we treat it very much the same way.  It drives us, and in turn is fostered and driven out into the world by us in a symbiotic cycle.  So if you find you are encountering the term quite often as we teach and share herein and elsewhere, that would be why!  ~The Professor